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How Do We Abide in Jesus?
For several years, I was the Headmaster for a classical Christian school. Our Upper School was renting space in a local Baptist church that had a community feeding program on Monday nights. Different churches would take turns using their kitchen to cook up dinner for needy families. Sometimes, on Tuesday morning when I unlocked the doors of the building, I would smell the distinct odor of gas. Apparently, some of the church groups thought they needed the blow out the pilot lights on the stove when the left on Monday night. Some things are so important that we need to make sure we really understand them!.
Jesus makes it clear in John 15 that abiding in Him is one such vitally important concept to understand. He says that we cannot bear spiritual fruit unless we abide in Him, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus talks about abiding in Him three times in two verses, so obviously it's a vitally important concept, but what does it mean?
To abide in Jesus means to remain, to stay or to dwell in Him. But how do we do that. Jesus gives this to us as a command: "Abide in me." So, how do we keep that comand?
Abiding in Jesus ties together much of what John has been teaching in His Gospel:
- In John 1:12, he told us that "to those who received him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
- Jesus said, in John 6:40, "everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life."
- In John 10, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd . . . My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (v. 28)
So, when we receive Jesus and believe in His name, we become children of God. When we believe in the Son of God, we have eternal life. If we are the sheep of God, we will hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him. Abiding in Jesus is simply the continual living out of these things: receiving Him, believing in His name, believeing in Him, hearing His voice, following Him.
So, how do we abide in Jesus? We trust in Jesus. We listen to Jesus. We follow Jesus.
We trust in Jesus and not ourselves, confessing our need and helplessness and believing in Him. He is the Son of God and the Savior of sinners. More than that, He is our Savior, who has bought us and who keeps us.
We listen to Jesus and not the world or our flesh or the devil. This means we spend time in His word, because His sheep know that they hear the sound of His voice in His word. So we spend time listening to Jesus in the Bible.
Finally, we follow Jesus, doing what He says, going where He goes, confessing our sin and returning to Him when we stray. A sheep follows the shepherd. A branch remains connected to the vine. So, too, we are Jesus' disciples only if we actually follow Him. Otherwise it's all just theory.
The bad news is that we cannot abide in Jesus by our own strength, but the good news is that the Holy Spirit causes us to abide in Him and He in us. The even better news is that the Holy Spirit causes us to bear fruit as He keeps us in Jesus. Praise God!
Prayer Based on Psalm 61:
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to You
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I, the rock that is Jesus Your Son,
for You have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of Your wings!
For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You have prolonged the life of King Jesus;
so that His years endure to all generations!
He has been enthroned forever before God;
and He appoints steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over His people!
So will I ever sing praises to Your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.